The Naqab – Palestinian Bedouins as Israeli Citizens Under Civil Law
There are in total 46 Bedouin villages in the Naqab, the majority of which existed before Israel’s creation in 1948. Some claim to have existed since the 7th century. Israeli authorities do not recognise Bedouin ownership of the land, and instead label them as ‘trespassers on state land’ (Adalah 2018). The infrastructure and socio-economic living standards in these Bedouin communities are among the lowest in Israel (Adalah 2018). The Prawer Plan (2011) and the Memorandum of Law on the Regulation of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev (2016), which approve the mass forcible transfer of over 70,000 Bedouins and the destruction of their villages, have created an atmosphere where the threat of demolition and forced evacuation is constant. In contrast, 70 Jewish farms in the Naqab have received recognition from the Israeli authorities in order to sustain a Jewish majority population. (ACRI 2012; ACRI, Bimkom, RCUV 2011; Swirski, Hasson 2006; Adalah n.y.; 2011; 20174; Arab Center for Alternative Planning 2013; Bimkom 2014; Bimkom, RCUV 2012; Mossawa Center 2017).
A method of enforcing the eradication of unrecognized Palestinian villages is to ensure their misrepresentation on maps. As part of this policy, these villages do not appear on first sight on Google Maps or at all on Israeli maps, with the exception of army and hiking maps. They are labelled on NGO maps designed to increase their visibility. On Google Maps, the Bedouin villages are marked – in contrast to cities and other villages – under their Bedouin tribe and clan names (Bimkom) rather than with their village names and are only visible when zooming in very closely, but otherwise appear to be non-existent. This means that when looking at Google Maps, these villages appear to be not there, only when zooming on to a very high degree, do they appear with their tribe or clan names. At first (and second and third) sight, therefore, these villages are simply not there.
Despite their small size, Israeli villages are displayed even when zoomed-out, while unrecognized Palestinian Bedouin villages, regardless of their size are only visible when zooming in very closely.